media outlets are becoming essential for academia, not just for the
promotion of research but for research development as well. Andy Miah
provides an overview of his top picks for the social media newbie and
argues that if used well, these platforms will allow academics to digest
more content, more quickly. We must figure out how to use social media
in a way that enriches academic working life, but in a way that also
provides some added value.
In December 2012, the LSE held an event
about the future of academic impact. One chunk of the discussion was
dedicated to social media and it made me think about what researchers
should be doing today, to prepare for tomorrow. While a lot of the
conversation was about how social media can promote research impact, I also want to claim that social media is fast becoming a primary vehicle of research development.
In so doing, this brief essay offers an overview of where we might need
to focus our attention in the rapidly expanding world of social media.
These days, I receive more invitations to speak and collaborate via Facebook & LinkedIn
today than I do by email. I’d even go as far as to say that email is
moribund. I mean, really, who has time to read all the emails they
receive, let alone reply to them? I find more resources through Pinterest and Google Scholar than I do via my library. I meet more people with whom I share common research interests through Twitter than I ever did at academic conferences. I co-author and edit university documents in Google Drive
saving hours of time spent sharing versions of drafts, sometimes
working in real time on one document with over 10 people. I am also one
of those people who has switched from Endnote to Mendeley,
preferring the convenience of a multi-platform application, which I can
install onto my home machines as well, without having to go through
What about journals or conferences, I hear you ask? Are these not
still primary vehicles of research development? Certainly, they remain
important, but the point is that they are each increasingly being
delivered by social media as well. Furthermore, we can digest a lot more
content because of these platforms, if we use them well. I no longer
visit journal websites or bother with email alerts about new issues.
Instead, the RSS feeds of journals go straight into my social media
environments, as soon as they are published. The content comes to me,
saving hours of search time.
So what is next for the social media newbie? The first thing to
realise is that there is no single way of doing this well. We each have
to figure out how to use social media in a way that enriches our working
life, but in a way that also provides some added value. That said,
there are some smart principles worth adopting. Setting up an ongoing
‘future media’ working group in your School will help you keep abreast
of what’s hot and what’s not. So will joining the ‘Social Media News’ list on jiscmail, which I set up just for this purpose.
We had 350 members subscribe within the first month. And who says
email is dead?Understanding which virtual worlds your peer community and
audience inhabit is also crucial. However, by far, the most important
thing is just getting out there. Experience shows that social media is
one of those things that requires practice to really understand why it
matters. Or, more accurately, once you start using it, you will begin to
discover the value,
This doesn’t mean that all academics need to tweet or use Facebook to
benefit from social media. However, with more publishers, research, and
peers occupying these places, deciding to opt out of social media is
akin to opting out of email in the 1990s. If you really don’t know where
to start, then the following platforms would put you in a good position
to expand your reach.
- Twitter – Don’t just follow people, curate your own thematic lists and follow hashtags to get the most out of this, start with #loveHE
- LinkedIn – if you don’t have a website, this social CV space is also quickly replacing discussion groups.
- Google Scholar – Set up an author profile to track your citations and receive alerts whenever your work is cited.
- Slideshare – Upload your presentations and start building your followers around the content you’ve already created.
– 2013 is the year of video, so no top 5 would be complete without some
video platform. There are many others now – and micro video-blogging on
such platforms as Tout and Vine are worth keeping an eye on, but
YouTube remains a good place to start.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the
position of the Impact of Social Science blog, nor of the London School
of Economics. Please review our Comments Policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.
About the Author
Professor Andy Miah (@andymiah) is
Director of the Creative Futures Institute and Chair of Ethics and
Emerging Technologies in the Faculty of Business & Creative
Industries at the University of the West of Scotland. He is Global
Director for the Centre for Policy and Emerging Technologies, Fellow of
the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and Fellow of FACT,
Impact of Social Sciences – Top 5 social media platforms for research development